We have eaten some incredible food over the last 10 months of traveling. We tried shrimp and grits in South Carolina, had Nashville's best fried chicken, oysters on the Gulf of Mexico, BBQ in Texas, deep dish pizza in Chicago, lobster in Maine (and Long Island), poutine in Quebec and dim sum in DC. We've had the privilege of being invited into countless homes for family meals where we've noted recipe ideas and discovered new ways of fixing old favorites.
We love good food, and we love eating food that is good for us. This hasn't always been easy while living on the road. We've managed to avoid fast food (Chipotle doesn't count because it's fast, but isn't poisonous) - grabbing some hummus, pita, a bottled smoothie and some veggies at a grocery store is often just as fast, cheaper and way better. While we haven't been able to cook as many home-made meals as we would like, having our little kitchen and pantry has made a big difference for life on this tour. In fact, just this month Steuart learned from Rebecca Reed (check out her new food blog!) how to bake bread in our tiny oven. We didn't think it was possible because the oven (made in 1959!) doesn't have a circulating fan and only heats from the top. But thanks to Rebecca's instructions and my grandma's old Le Creuset, we now can have freshly baked bread wherever we go.
Earlier this month we were reminded of the beauty of growing and picking your own food when we visited some dear friends in Medina, Ohio. Driving into their suburban cul-de-sac, one doesn't expect to find a vast organic vegetable garden, fruit trees, berry bushes and honey-producing bee hives. We timed our visit well, enjoying the fruits and veggies of their labor during the height of the summer. We gave a concert on the patio for their friends and neighbors, a concert accompanied by some home-brewed beer courtesy of our hosts. To top off the week, we made homemade jelly donuts using jam made from their garden strawberries.
From Medina we traveled south to Columbus where Steuart premiered his program "The Bach Reader" at a neat little book store in the part of town called "German Village". The concert was meant to take place outside, but the 90 degree weather forced us indoors, where we all squeezed in to the children's books section. Because this was our first concert in a bookstore we weren't sure if it would attract a good crowd. Thanks to friends in the area really helping to spread the word, we had a packed show. We had a great week Columbus, staying with wonderful friends who fed us well (our tummies as well as our minds) and a bit of a less hectic schedule.
For the last 2.5 weeks we were camped out in a parking lot in Oberlin, where Steuart was teaching at the Credo Music festival. It was so wonderful to be back on familiar turf - Oberlin is where we met and went to school. We ate many times at our favorite burrito bar (Agave), had pancakes at our favorite brunch place (Black River), cheap and delicious lunches at Kim's Korean Grocery... the list goes on. For a tiny town in rural Ohio, Oberlin's food scene is pretty incredible (and cheap!). Unfortunately we had to cut the eating short because we both came down with a nasty flu. Steuart somehow managed to push through and keep teaching, while Michelle barely left the trailer for six days. You may have seen the live-streamed concert at Slow Train Cafe - yes, we both had fevers that day, but the show must go on, right? While it was a bummer to be sick in a place where we wanted to be visiting with friends, at least we were in one place.
We've mentioned Credo Music on this blog before - the organization has come alongside us for the tour, connecting us with their network of alumni and parents across the county and sponsoring some of the shows. Every summer Credo hosts about 75 students on Oberlin's campus for a truly life-changing three weeks of chamber music coachings, lessons, service projects, morning sings, master classes, orchestra, faculty and students concerts... What makes the festival so special, among other things, is the faculty who return year after year. The faculty love these students, they care about them and genuinely want to help guide them in not only being a better musician, but the best person they can be. Steuart has had the honor of teaching alongside these exceptional leaders for the last eight years, and this summer we were reminded of just how special those relationships are.
The time has come to HEAD WEST. We've been looking forward to going west all year, and we're finally on our way. After traveling for almost 10 months, we're counting on some breathtaking landscapes to give us the energy boost and motivation we need to keep going. We're stopped in Iowa City at the moment where Steuart presented the "Bach Reader" to another packed bookstore last night. From here we head to Wyoming, driving through South Dakota and stopping in the Badlands for some camping. Have any good camping recipes? Leave them in the comments below!